Friday, July 24, 2015

Culture | 'Screen Test' Forever: Homage to the Legendary Edward F. Limato...

In honor of five years
since the premier of golden A&F Screen Test,
The Sitch on Fitch pays homage one of its key iconic figures
to have brought the magnificent grandeur to life,
the legendary Edward F. Limato...

         AN ILLUSTRIOUS FIGURE of the stars, Edward Frank Limato became the shining epitome of aspirational youth ascended to ethereal realm of dreams realized and lived in revelry renowned. Born on July 10, 1936, to an Italian-American middle class family in Mount Vernon, New York, an innate drive in heart took him as a young man across the land - earning a living as disc jockey - and from homeland to overseas in Europe - where, in 1966, he became assistant to director Franco Zifferelli on the set of the film adaptation of William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Upon return to the expanse of glory country, ground of American Dream, a golden destiny unraveled forth...

"He was in a class by himself - an iconoclast, as Vanity Fair once called him - a talent agent who glided through Hollywood with poise and panache. He hearkened back to the Golden Age, a time when men were more refined and elegant, as if he were preparing for an evening at the Mocambo. Yet despite his reverence for Hollywood of yore, his client list kept him active and relevant into the 21st century. He was as colorful as he was powerful. Always handsomely coiffed and impeccably dressed, Limato would promenade into the office wearing Italian suits of mustard yellow or salmon pink, rallying to his assistants, 'Let’s talk to the stars.'"

Of the utmost iconic of legends of the golden screen, they were in his orbit honed, beloved and serviced by his personal recognition, belief of their quality and attention to more than just their careers, their hearts and dreams...

"Limato was the last of the great Hollywood talent agents – a breed that dwindled with the loss of Stan Kamen and Irving “Swifty” Lazar. Over the years, his client list read like a who's who of Hollywood royalty and Oscar winners, including Antonio Banderas, Michael Biehn, Nicholas Cage, Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe, Claire Danes, Geena Davis, James Franco, Matthew Fox, Ava Gardner, Melanie Griffith, Goldie Hawn, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Thomas Jane, Frank Langella, Jennifer Lopez, Derek Luke, director Adrian Lyne, Madonna, Matthew McConaughey, Bette Midler, Liam Neeson, Sam Neill, Nate Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dennis Quaid, Doris Roberts, Diana Ross, Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, Meryl Streep, Paul Walker and Marlon Brando. To Limato, his clients were less business and more family. He was known to cry when one would leave him for another agent. Instead of family photographs in his living room, he kept exquisitely framed headshots of every actor he ever represented. He was loyal and stood by clients Gibson, Robert Downey, Jr. and Winona Ryder during their darkest times."

By the 1990s, he had become furthermore renowned for his extravagant, ravishing Oscar fetes hosted at his exquisite and raved John Wolf-designed mansion originally realized in 1936 as a honeymoon retreat for Dick Powell and Joan Blondell. Ed's annual parties, the bash event of the year to which flocked grand glitterati pertaining to great Hollywood and beyond the stratum: "Limato’s fame as an agent might have only been eclipsed by his annual Oscar party, a relaxed but star-studded event that was held at his home the Friday before the Academy Awards. Limato reigned supreme over the party in flamboyant regalia and bare feet. The guest list looked like the hall of fame from politics, movies, TV, music and literature. Invitations were coveted and entrée to the event was often sport to Hollywood lounge lizards and posers who struggled to find a way in." Journalist Roger Friedman recalled the 2001 festivity, with him as having been a guest of Caroline Graham, as of arguably the finest which had ever been wherein a tent, set up on the gorgeous lawn, then-U.S. Senator of Massachusetts John Kerry walked in and engaged in conversation with a group of attendees, including Friedman and Diana Ross, and informed that he, Kerry, was officially to run for the 2004 United States presidential one believed him when he told his media crew afterwards, though it would later prove true, and Kerry is now, since 2013, the 68th U.S. Secretary of State preceded by Hilary Clinton. The greatest figures across worlds were Limato's guests.

In 2003, Limato joined the Abercrombie & Fitch Board of Directors and held chair during the glory years of Mike Jeffries Abercrombie & Fitch. When it came to realizing the most grand of Abercrombie & Fitch marketing campaigns ever envisioned (and planned to rekindle the brand golden after the woes of the Great Recession), Limato played a pivotal role in securing major elements for executing work for A&F Screen Test and its A&F Quarterly special edition.

Sadly, Ed passed away at his Beverly Hills home on July 3, 2010 after a long battle with lung disease from emphysema worsened by pneumonia. He left the world just days before his 74th birthday and the July 17 premier of glorious A&F Screen Test, one of his last legacies and which indeed beautifully rekindled Abercrombie & Fitch.

"Ed was a wonderful director. He was an even better person. With impeccable style and grace, he worked tirelessly for A&F, even as his health declined. Just recently, his industry knowledge and connections were critical to our 'A&F Screen Test' campaign and Hollywood-themed A&F Quarterly. All of us will miss Ed deeply." - Mike, modern founder and then-Chairman & CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, A&F press release, July 6, 2010
"Even in his final days, Limato played host to those who came to say good-bye. He passed away surrounded by the conviviality that always made him happy. Judy Garland sang in the background as movie stars, their spouses and children, fellow agents, co-workers, producers, studio heads, old friends and family gathered around, brought flowers and food, ate homemade Italian meatballs, drank cocktails, laughed, cried and shared stories of the talent agent who could outshine any star in Hollywood. [...] He had no children but nurtured, inspired and shepherded many young Hollywood professionals - his entourage - who learned the business from him. They continue his legacy." - About Ed, Edward F. Limato Foundation

The film Unstoppable - starring Denzel Washington (a long-time client) and Chris Pine; released in North America on November 12, 2010; and positively received by critics - was dedicated to him.

Screen Test made our hearts SOAR in euphoria and dream and for that, his grand role in it, we are to forever thank and keep Ed in our hearts... #YouAreEternalAndOfTheStars! Thank you, Ed!

"I Believe in You (Riff and Rays Radio Edit)" by Hannah was a featured track on
the playlist accompanying the premier of A&F Screen Test - a favorite of C.E.R.'s, a wonderful and
most fitting track for our subject and in celebration of #ScreenTest5

Our homage to Ed is the beginning of our series of posts in celebration of five years since the premier of glorious A&F Screen Test, the Flint to Spark a Trip to the Stars... #ScreenTestForever #ScreenTest5


P.S. Learn more of Ed and his lasting Foundation at its official site (here)!

Top image and quotes (except for the Mike Jeffries quote which is from the July 6, 2010, press release) in this post are from the Edward F. Limato Foundation.